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75 die in China factory explosion, state-run media says

By Ben Brumfield and Euan McKirdy, CNN
updated 4:03 AM EDT, Mon August 4, 2014
A victim is taken to hospital after a factory explosion in Kunshan on August 2, 2014
A victim is taken to hospital after a factory explosion in Kunshan on August 2, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 69 killed, 180 injured in factory blast in eastern Chinese city of Kunshan
  • Dust believed to have been ignited, causing explosion
  • Two executives from the company have been placed under arrest
  • President Xi Jinping calls for efforts to help the injured, orders full investigation

(CNN) -- A factory explosion killed 75 people Saturday in China, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

The blast occurred at 7:37 a.m. Saturday (7.37 p.m. Friday, Eastern time) in the city of Kunshan in the eastern province of Jiangsu. Along with the dead, the explosion also injured 180 people, Xinhua said, citing officials.

Officials have called the explosion a "work safety accident," the state media organization reported.

Those injured in the explosion were transferred to hospitals in the nearby cities of Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi and Nantong. Most of the victims were suffering from burns, Xinhua reported local health authorities as saying.

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for "all-out efforts" to treat the survivors. Residents in the city of Nantong have been lining up to donate blood to aid the victims' recovery.

Flames may have ignited "metal dust" in the Kunshan Zhongrong Metal factory, a wheel-hub-polishing facility, according to initial investigations.

Xi also said that he would order a full investigation into the tragedy and ensure that those responsible for the accident were held fully accountable. He has assigned state councilor Wang Yong to lead the investigation, Xinhua reported.

Two senior executives at the Taiwan-invested company have been placed in police custody. Yang Dongliang, director of the State Administration of Work Safety, who is heading an investigation team for the accident, said there was "very serious dereliction of duty," given the conditions within the factory.

Xinhua reported that Yang has said that the company that owns the facility shoulders most of the blame for the accident, but added that local government departments should also bear some responsibility for poor implementation of regulations.

The factory is a supplier of U.S. car maker General Motors, according to state TV news.

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